Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 171

Tuesday 19th June 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.10. First at school I did Topic, then it was maths groups. When we came out I did maths, then I had dinner at 12.00.

After dinner we played cricket and when we came in I did Topic. At 3.15 I came home and played on the computer till I had tea. Then I played on the computer again till 7.40, when I watched Sorry.

At 8.10 I went out, then at 9.00 I watched The Young ones. Went to bed at 9.35.

I’m delighted to report that when I got off the school bus on this summery morning, I was greeting in the playground by a grinning Doug, Placie and Tucker, bouncing up and down at the iron gate and still singing lustily ‘Whistle up the knacker man, the knacker man, the knacker man…’

Our version of a 21-gun salute to mark my arrival and celebrate the previous evening’s high jinks. It’s great how, when you’re 11, even the most modest of new experiences (meeting a bloke working outside a factory and having a bit of banter with him) can take on legendary status just BECAUSE it’s new. When you’ve only got 11 years of world experience behind you, anything even slightly novel has a seismic impact, and – when the actual ‘Muffin Man’ advert popped up on the portable colour TV on the bus on the way in (we were spoilt) – I’d been unable to resist singing along, completely unselfconsciously, by myself. I think even Gordon, our grizzled Scottish driver, raised the vaguest flicker of a smile. 

On second thoughts, he can’t have done. No, really. Must have been a bit of trapped wind.


Anyway, WHHHHAT?!?!? WHAAAAATT’S THISSSS???!?! (read those bits in the voice of Brian Blessed) Amazingly, we appear to have done a full day’s work on this occasion, with not a hint of daytime cricket practice, officially-sanctioned British Bulldogs or ‘taking the tables outside’ to distract us. Just six, solid hours of long division (brrr), vulgar fractions (two f***ing thirds) and chipping away at our ‘Topic’ work of fire, flames, temperature and assisted arson. I can only assume there was a School Inspector on the prowl, and the bone-chilling phrase ‘Carry on as normal, and pretend I’m not here’ had been heard echoing around the corridors.

Or, alternatively, it might have been the weather. My parents (and anyone else who was alive on Teesside in 1968) will tell you of the terrifying July day when, in the middle of the afternoon, the sky literally turned black. My Mum, to this day, insists that many Teessiders genuinely thought the ‘end of the world’ had arrived just before lunchtime on a Tuesday morning. Apparently it was a truly scary experience, and one that has entered into folklore, and you can read about the whole, strange phenomenon on this bit of our local Evening Gazette website (go on, have a look, it’s a great story!)


I have a feeling that our lunchtime cricket match took place under similar (if nowhere near as extreme) conditions. I definitely remember a day when Doug, Ozzie, Placie, Tucker, Frankie and I set up for our usual game of low-rent cricket (two Puma sports bags stacked up as wickets, and ferocious, bodyline bowling with a fluffed-up tennis ball) in bright sunshine, and – by the time Placie and Tucker’s impressive opening partnership had been broken – a pitch black, rumbling wedge of cloud had rolled over us from the direction of the VG Shop. 


Oddly enough, the rain didn’t come for an age, but I could see our terrifying yellow-coated dinner nannies Mrs Gallon and Mrs James striding around purposefully with whistles in mouths, checking their watches and exchanging meaningful glances with the fourth official (Mrs Strike) on the touchline. We continued to play cricket in the gloom, with the spectre of the storm looming above us, like summer and winter gathered into one surreal, oil-and-water bundle.

And then, at 12.55pm, a single raindrop landed on the lens of James Place’s glasses. ‘EVERYBODY IN!!! IT’S RAINING!!! IT’S RAINING!!!!!!!’ hollered Mrs Gallon, within nanoseconds. I spent the rest of the afternoon writing about the Great Fire Of London as horizontal sheets of rain smashed against the school windows (from the outside, thankfully)


And the last-ever episode of The Young Ones! ‘Summer Holiday’, in which our heroes steal a bus, become fugitives from justice, and then… well, die. There had been rumours sweeping school throughout the day that Rik, Vyvyan, Neil and Mike Thecoolperson were about to meet their maker, but I refused to believe it. And I still do – there’ll always be a piece of my heart that is forever an.. erm..  sticky bottom-burp.

Credit to all involved with The Young Ones for making ‘our’ Monty Python, a comedy show that united all in the playground and provided a generation with the recommended daily allowance of grot, filth, smut and sheer, brilliant, anarchic madness for years to come. The impact of the show on our young lives was shattering, and not least because the final episode features my hero…



  Mark Hirst wrote @

There is serious legislation at the moment in educational circles that children should be getting a minimum of five hours physical activity per week in schools. You will have the weight of Ofsted and the DCSF all over you if not!

So it pleases me no end, that we were seriously ahead of our time at Levendale and my Brian Glover moments were all for the good!

On the cricketing front, I actually played cricket with Brian Henry, lovely bloke and the father of the infamous Stan!

  Patsy wrote @

OOh, thank you Bob – what an unexpected treat – the Otway clip I mean. Always was, always be my hero 🙂
I still have my ‘Young Ones’ videos, though suspect they won’t be watched anymore, last one was great..

  Thing wrote @

‘Can you hear my body talking? Bodytalk!’ Otway was singing in The Young Ones.

Vyvyan: ‘I’ll make his body talk in a minute…’

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